Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Luck and Work

I’ve know some wealthy people – two men stand out in my mind, both friends, both Christians, both members of churches I’ve served.

My thoughts on this were triggered this morning by something I heard on TV: “Ya’ know how to spell luck? W O R K.”

I’ve heard it before, and all around the town, and from one of the men noted above.

When he said, many years ago to me, I was uneasy about it, and hadn’t heard it for awhile until this morning.

I’m still uneasy about it, because it’s not true.

Millions, if not billions, of people work hard, from sunup to sundown, and then some. Year after year of grinding hard work, and nary a break to be had, and just a heartbeat away from abject poverty, and no hope of ever breaking free.

The family in Sudan … the beggar in Calcutta … the farmer in Nepal … and a lot of folks right here in the US of A.

The other rich man spoke at the Rotary Club one day and told of all the free lunches he’s enjoyed: the parents he didn’t choose, the intelligence bequeathed to him in his DNA, the spirit of the family, its faith and its love. The college professors who encouraged him. The first banker who believed in him and loaned him seed-money. And all along the trail, one free lunch after the other. Did he work hard? You bet he worked hard, but he was a man who understood grace and was himself a gracious man.

The other man, the hard-work-equals-good-luck kinda of a guy was a charitable man, but with an edge that revealed itself ultimately in an unrelenting self-centeredness that destroyed his family.

He didn’t understand grace, and thus no grace was given. Everyone and everything in his little world had to fit into the niche of personal achievement. And so it goes. Did he work hard? Yes, morning, noon and night and then some, and fabulously wealthy.

Two men, both super-rich. The one who turned it all on himself, and the other who recognized the free lunch.